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Buffalo Mountain Mission Buildings

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1920s; later additions. Buffalo Rd. at Childress Rd.
  • Buffalo Mountain Presbyterian Church

This group of buildings near the Carroll-Floyd county line, with dramatic views of Buffalo Mountain (also known as Buffalo Knob) to the east, began with the establishment of the Buffalo Mountain Mission School, one of fifteen mountain home mission schools opened by the Presbyterian Synod of Virginia between 1890 and 1930. The school (1922–1923, J. Wesley Lehmann, builder), which operated from 1923 to 1961, incorporated classrooms on the first floor, with dormitory rooms located in the second and attic floors. The large frame building, clad with weatherboards and topped by a gambrel roof, resembles a barn. A small stone springhouse (c. 1925) with a deep gable-end overhang provided fresh water to the school. The school initially served as a preaching station, but after the arrival of the Reverend Robert W. Childress Sr. in 1926, for whom the Presbyterian Manse (1926) was built, a formal congregation was organized.

Childress, a formidable preacher profiled in The Man Who Moved a Mountain (1970) by Richard C. Davids, led the congregation in gathering quartzite fieldstones and erecting a new church, the Buffalo Mountain Presbyterian Church (1929). The church's rough fieldstone walls contrast with round-arched stained glass windows. The interior is plain with a ceiling of white acoustic tiles. Childress lived at Buffalo Mountain for more than thirty years, and as a circuit preacher his evangelizing was widespread in the region. Five other similar rock or rock-faced churches in Carroll, Floyd, and Patrick counties built between 1919 and the 1950s are attributed to him. A large cemetery enclosed by a stone wall has numerous granite, marble, and concrete markers.

Writing Credits

Anne Carter Lee

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